Claims about alcohol

From Tom McKay at Gizmodo:

Alcohol is responsible for over one in 20 of all deaths worldwide, according to the most recent edition of a World Health Organization (WHO) report that comes out every four years.

The Guardian writes that the report found that roughly three million deaths in 2016 can be attributed to alcohol, of which 2.3 million were men and 29 percent were caused by injuries (including everything from accidents to car collisions and suicides) rather than health problems. Other recorded causes of death included digestive disorders (21 percent) and cardiovascular diseases (19 percent), as well as “infectious diseases, cancers, mental disorders” and other conditions caused by alcohol intake, CNN added.

According to the WHO data, approximately 7.2 percent of premature deaths worldwide are linked to alcohol, and as well as 5.3 of all deaths in general.

Obviously murky and multiple causalities will make any of these numbers debatable.  Still, I guess this explains why debates over alcohol so command the headlines these days and make alcohol the number one social issue?

Comments

No debate because liberals and conservatives enjoy alcohol equally. Compare this to guns.

On average alcohol sales are legal for 18 years old and up. On other places beer at 16 and liquor . in the US 21 years old, even some dry counties.

this is a great experiment. the USA must have better outcomes compared to those cesspools where 16 years old can buy beer.

In cesspools, beer is safer than water...

Historically accurate comment: "In cesspools, beer is safer than water..."

Yօu realize whɑt Pastoг Johansson informed us
ߋn Sunday is that God really likes worship. Daddy added.

Alcohol sales at 21 YO, compared to guns at 18 YO (most common, in some states 16).

That was the not very thinly veiled joke

There is no debate because there is far too much tax money at stake.

Who cares how many citizens get slaughtered on the highway? Somewhere there is a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Urban Affairs that needs to retire at 53.

'Who cares how many citizens get slaughtered on the highway? '

MADD

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/former-madd-president-arrested-for-dui/

But he was once in the Army for a few years so its all good.

This seems exactly the sort of thing that Hanson is talking about when saying numbers are better than emotions, at least when looking at GMU econ dept web site operators.

'for over one in 20 of all deaths worldwide' x 'the report found that roughly three million deaths in 2016 can be attributed to alcohol' = 60 million total deaths. Which, with a global population of somewhere around 7.7 billion people, does seem a bit less than precise.

Averages are tricky things to play with, regardless of what examples of mood affiliation one is deciding to signal with. (Or whatever the approved GMU econ dept web site jargon is these days.)

'and make alcohol the number one social issue'

What a strange assertion. Sort of like how atheists think everyone cares about religion, just like they do.

'and make alcohol the number one social issue'

I took that for sarcasm?

See below - for a certain group of people, drunken debauchery in the late 70s/early 80s among teenagers in the DC region has become big news.

Oh! That.

It is baffling how much trouble people have accepting the consequences of changes to cultural norms made decades ago.
Either Kavanaugh or his accuser would make a perfectly acceptable Supreme Court justice (well, if she were practiced in lawtalking, which, judging from the dim expression of her senior photo, supported by the imperfect literacy on display in a letter she presumably pored over at length, might be a hill to climb). But no, either one would be perfect. Remember that Cary Grant movie with Ronald Colman at his most Ronald-Colman-ish as a jurist who learns from CG that the law should be written with an eye toward human nature, flesh and blood people, the facts on the ground? Replace "striking millworker" (those days being over) with "anybody raised by fifties parents in the 70s/80s." I wanted pajamas like Jean Arthur's, which is why I remember a movie I watched on the late show circa 1985, when my more socially-successful peers were at very lightly chaperoned parties where boys and girls went off into the bedroom together at the spin of a bottle, not because a boy *followed a girl to the bathroom*.

Have the moralists and the prudes gradually switched places? Good night nurse!

The #1 social issue is obviously social media :p

Avoiding death is not as good as it sounds. If people don't die of alcohol, they still die of something else. It's not like abstinence makes them immortal. Also, death leads to nonexistence, and nonexistence people can't have needs or problems. You may not get that lover or vacation when you're dead, but you don't need it anymore either, because you have to be alive to miss them. Plus, that vacation or love affair may be sweeter with some alcohol involved. Bilions of dollars of demand can't be wrong.

Rafael, this logic is brilliant! Forgive my ignorance, but is it nihilism? Whatever it is, keep up the good work.

"billions of dollars of demand can't be wrong" is now my favourite slogan of the year. Are there t-shirts?

I tried to tell my wife the same thing about porn

Why do you need to tell your wife about porn?

uncleared cookie cache of course

I think the better response here is: yeah, it might be responsible for a lot of deaths, but you have to balance that against how many births it's responsible for, too, ifyaknowhatimean.

And that increase in births needs to be balanced against the number of idiots I have to deal with in everyday life, a large portion of which probably have some degree of undiagnosed fetal alcohol syndrome.

Good point:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41443-018-0022-x

Sodium chloride is necessary for human existence, alcohol is not. Yet there have been multiple tax regimes, notably the pre Revolutionary gabelle, that used state power to force people to buy salt so that taxes could be collected on it. Alcohol has long been heavily taxed and though contraband alcohol is hardly unheard of, I can not think of anything comparable involving alcohol.

There is a heavy hint of motivated reasoning about a lot of alcohol research, driven by the puritan coercion mindset. This report is a good example - I bet they are throwing everything they can think of into this death rate, with some pretty dodgy correlatives at the bottom of the analysis of health effects. At the root of this puritan approach is the urge to correct others; it is not enough for you to live your life according to certain rules, you must also coerce other people to follow these rules as well. The human history with alcohol is very long, and there is a lot of culture associated with it (what would England be without Pubs or Scotland without Whiskey or Germany without Weißbier?), that it seems very impractical to try to eliminate it's use, and would deprive lots of people of a great deal of pleasure. But that is the point of puritanism, the fear that someone somewhere is having a good time.

Actually, imbibing is a leading cause of death and human misery. Maybe, for once, we should care more about the victims than about the profits of death merchants.

Fuck off Thiago.

"A" leading cause.

How leading, exactly?

And are we considering the non-misery and non-death and active enjoyment caused by other imbibing?

But, no, obviously Just Ban Everything.

For the children, I'm sure.

"But that is the point of puritanism, the fear that someone somewhere is having a good time."

Guardian-types can be more accurately described as puritan-socialists, motivated by the fear that someone, somewhere (other than them) can afford to have a good time.

The average Puritan could drink the average fratboy of today under the table. The Puritans were great supporters of alcohol consumption, going so far as to ban toasts saying that it was sinful to waste God's gift of alcohol by intentionally spilling it (among other evils of toasting).

They, like most everyone else, cared about public drunkenness and the way in which that contributed to spousal and child abuse.

Prohibition actually comes out of the Pietist tradition, not the Puritan one. Its major backers were less opposed to revelry than than the destitution common when working men would drink away the family's income on Gin Lane or other establishments. The major backers of prohibition across the world were newly enfranchised women who believed that alcohol was a major contributor to domestic violence.

Shockingly, prohibition actually worked. People consumed far less alcohol. Those who came of age during prohibition (whenever that was in various territories) drank less and less problematically. We saw massive drops in rates of liver disease, spousal murder, and child beatings.

My problem is that it figures in >90% of the incidents of child abuse I have treated. It has contributed to 100% child homicides I have been involved in. And on average, my alcohol drinkers cost the medical system about 250% as much as my non-drinkers. A good portion of this is directly attributable to alcohol (e.g. delirium tremens is not a cheap side effect of meds and surgery). Liver transplants, STDs ... even the non-lethal alcohol effects are blindingly expensive.

If we use the same methodology for alcohol to internalize costs that we use for cigarettes we would need to more than quadruple alcohol taxes.

But hey, it is only poor kids who are dying. Who cares about them? Better to make sure the wealthy can get buzzed.

@Sure - but is it the people that abuse kids are also likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs, or is it the other way round? How many of these people are also abusing other drugs? And what is the exact contribution of alcohol vs other factors? I don't mean to sound rude, but you do sound like the usual anti-alcohol front when they attribute the entire effects of something bad to one cause - alcohol - while ignoring other potential causes. Of course banning alcohol will lower alcohol use, but at what cost? Where does this all stop - will we be forcing people to go on diets when they are obese? Forcing people to exercise when they are unfit?

@Sure - but is it the people that abuse kids are also likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs, or is it the other way round?>/em>

I think there is a hint in here
Italians seem to have less problem with alcohol and less child abuse.

Fair enough.

How many abused kids per standard unit of ethanol is acceptable?

I don't pretend that we can magically get rid of 100% of human suffering by reducing alcohol consumption, but conversely I expect you to agree that we get rid of more than zero.

What are your thresholds for taking some sort of action?

As Rafael said upstream, everybody must die, so it's a quantity vs quality issue. My uncle, who I inherit half his money under his mattress (literally) before the domestic help found it (they got the other half), lived until his 90s, but he got dementia, and his last couple of years was terrible. He looked like a skeleton after the cheap but substandard by US standards old folks home in Greece was done with him. Influenza speeded up his decline, so they are not entirely to blame, as it was a national epidemic a few years ago. Still, what's the point of eating healthy and living like a monk just to add a mere 4.2 extra years to the end of your life?

Bonus trivia: a book I just got in the Philippines, which gets used books from the USA and sells them in bulk for a buck each, sometimes even books like "the Windows 95 Bible" (they don't curate their stock) and obscure US monograms, is "Battling Demon Rum" by Pegram.

"Still, what's the point of eating healthy and living like a monk just to add a mere 4.2 extra years to the end of your life?"

I agree, but one of the motivators behind these puritanical statists is the modern terror of death as a concept. Many seem terrified to even use the word "died" preferring the meaningless "passed" instead.

I assume you are referring to the statists of the right, who succumb to endless scare tactics about statistically insignificant causes of death at the hands of some terrorist or immigrant or voter fraud, and beg the nanny state to protect them

"causes of death at the hands of... voter fraud"

I love it. Of course leftists are terrified of death at the hands of money and offensive Tweets

Now that the weather is changing it's time we had a BEER TREAD! What's your brew of choice right now? I'll start

Sour Monkey | Victory Brewing Company

HOPS: Tettnang
MALTS: Pilsner
FLAVOR: Aroma is very varied with lemon, sour, and mild brettanomyces notes. Flavor follows with a tart acidity. Not dry as it finishes with a malty grain flavor

and yeah, that 9.5% ABV really sneaks up on you!

Bottoms Up!

Sapporo beer. Not sure what the composition is. 5% alcohol? A favorite beer here for girls is 3% "apple/lemon flavored" San Mig beer. For guys it's the "Red Horse" which is I think 7% ABV. But guys drink Emperidor Light brandy by the liter.

Bonus trivia: in Virginia you cannot sell spirits with wine and beer, but need a special store. In the Philippines you can sell beer, cigarettes to a minor, nobody cares. PH has more freedom in some ways than the USA (akin to the 'proles' in Orwell's "1984").

>In the Philippines you can sell beer, cigarettes to a minor, nobody cares.

That explains why they are such a global economic and cultural powerhouse.

Happiness at any age is subordinate to the economic and cultural power of the country of residence. In the case of the US, the economic power is obvious, the cultural aspect less so.

Guinness 'extra stout'

It's a sh*thole country where young women sell themselves to rich old men.

Firestone Walker Union Jack India Pale Ale is a reliable choice at 2.99 euros for a bottle, available in the Braumanufactum refrigerated section, is always a solid choice.

Plus Chimay Red (7% - about 1.50 euros in France) and Blue (9%, expiration date 2023, about 1.75 euros in France) are always good choices for those who want to use religious faith to balance out the deleterious effects of alcohol.

At least potentially, these 3 beers are available in more than one or two places.

@c_p: Chimay is good but please look for an Orval (Brasserie d'Orval). It's also made by monks......so, blessed by God =)

I have actually been to the monastery more than 2 decades ago, and did not like the beer that much. Everyone has different tastes, so it is not really a judgment on the quality of the monastery's beer.

I first tasted Chimay's 3 public beers (white, red, blue) a couple of years after the Orval experience. Andechs is a German monastery beer, their dark and light bock beers are quite good too. But not particularly worth noting in a world where bock beer is generally available from any number of sources.

This is first, I envy your visit to Brasserie d'Orval. Certainly, Orval is a bit bitter than the Chimay ones, a matter of taste. After the arrival of autumn last night, Chimay blue is not a bad idea.

I'll look for an Andechs next time in the bar.

My 11% abv Belgian quad that I homebrewed.

So 95% of all deaths have nothing to do with alcohol? Holy shit, demon rum is digging my liquory grave!

"Still, I guess this explains why debates over alcohol so command the headlines these days and make alcohol the number one social issue?"

I must be reading different "news" sources, because I wasn't aware of this.

Actually, I think this is an extremely oblique reference to drunken debauchery in the late 70s/early 80s in the DC region.

But even then, it is just part of the background of current news concerning Kavanaugh. Who at least seems to have no longer been an underage drinker when at a party with Deborah Ramirez. Possibly, we might see Kavanaugh develop a George Bush inspired perspective on youthful indiscretion - '"I oftentimes said that years ago I made some mistakes. I occasionally drank too much and I did on that night," Bush said. "I regret that it happened. But it did. I've learned my lesson."

Aides said Bush was pulled over near his family's Kennebunkport, Maine, summer home after visiting a bar with friends and a family member during the Labor Day weekend in 1976.' https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/aponline/20001103/aponline112738_000.htm

I read this as Tyler claiming alcohol wasn't getting enough attention compared to other social debates.

This study has been making the media rounds in various regurgitations lately, blog entries, reposts, press releases, and the like. It has gone viral in certain circles, and given the impression that everyone is talking about it.

Nonono, I bet this post was actually a snarky response to my trolling comment on the "how to have a conversation" post from yesterday.

We now have a highly effective treatment for alcoholism based on science

www.sinclairmethod.org

These generalized attacks upon alcohol need to be scrutinized carefully. Studies have consistently shown a J-curve for the health effects of alcohol consumption -- moderate drinkers have better outcomes than either heavy drinkers or never-drinkers. A recent Lancet study tried to fake its way around this fact by simply omitting the results for never-drinkers, but this did not go unnoticed.

https://health.spectator.co.uk/a-glass-of-wine-wont-shorten-your-life-moderate-drinking-is-still-good-for-you/

I imagine many "never drinkers" are compelled by health problems, and are not avoiding alcohol purely by choice.

If I've learned anything about science, its that a study can say whatever you want when you have that much freedom in the model.

Every study says the same thing, though: moderate driving produces the best outcomes. And my own guess would be that the never-drinkers are disproportionately religious. There aren't that many health conditions that will deter someone from *ever* drinking. Note that never-drinker does not mean former drinker.

Depending on your tolerance for various effects, there are actually quite a few. Alcohol induces cytochrome P450 which has the possibility of mucking around with the majority of drugs people take. Often this just requires a dose adjustment, but I have plenty of patients who have never drunk because they like not having variable drug responses. On the flip side a large body of drugs give disulfiram-like reactions; they block acetaldehyde dehydrogenase so even small amounts of alcohol give you massive headaches.

Diseases with lifelong drugs in either category include: diabetes, immunosuppression (e.g transplant), depression, insomnia, persistent infection (e.g. autosplenectomy), autoimmune disorders (e.g. lupus), heart disease, epilepsy, and many more.

A wide variety of these diseases strike before age of majority or even age of experimentation. I have many patients who got diagnoses with something like seizures or lupus and have never touched alcohol because they like their meds and dislike the idea of "the worst hangover ever".

Also, according to the most recent and thorough meta-analysis examining all-cause mortality, never drinking is superior to moderate drinking. The Lancet published the most recent analysis and "moderate drinking" is a net loss of QALY, DALY, and life expectancy.

There is nothing wrong with taking risks in life, but alcohol use is indeed a risk and not a health protecting choice.

Cowen: the ultimate blue nose scold.

Two days ago it was how to talk at cocktail parties-but don't drink!

Today, its posting a study which purports to show that alcohol kills 2.9M men a year-in a global population of 7.3 billion.

Excuse me while I go pee in my pants.

Take as much time as you need. Hell, take the whole week.

Thanks, wanker.

They actually say alcohol “caused” all these health conditions and accidents?

They must have perfected their crystal ball

There's a pretty glaring reason that alcoholic consumption spiked in Philly last February, compared to Allegheny County. Philadelphia won the Super Bowl. Pittsburgh didn't.

Thanks for your comment! You've made a very good observation regarding the timing of the Superbowl, which we believe did contribute to Philadelphia's alcohol consumption levels in both January and February 2018.

That's one reason why we waited to get several additional months of Philadelphia's liquor tax revenue data before posting our analysis. The additional data confirms the elevated level of alcohol being consumed in Philadelphia even after the Superbowl (we hinted at this in the update we provided to the post), confirming that the event only contributed a small percentage of the overall increase observed over the period, which was limited to these months.

Note also that the ramp up in alcohol consumption indicated by the city's liquor tax revenue data begins in January 2017, long before the Eagles' championship season even began, and continued well into the season, before the Eagles became clear playoff contenders.

Depending on what sports you follow, you may have missed it, but Pittsburgh also experienced two sports championships in during our period of interest, where the Penguins won hockey's Stanley Cup twice, in 2016 and again in 2017. We compared data in recent years where the team was either eliminated during the playoffs or went on to win the championship, where we found little difference in Allegheny County's liquor tax collections between these years (2014 through 2017), suggesting that winning a sports championship didn't contribute very much to alcohol consumption rates in the region covering the team's fan base.

Combined with the sustained level of alcohol consumption in the months since, the data from Allegheny County's liquor tax collections means that we can eliminate the Eagle's Superbowl victory as being much more than a small, short-term contributor to the city's rising alcohol consumption levels over the period from January 2017 through June 2018.

Is alcohol really the "number one social issue"? Here in the UK the types of people who enjoy shouting at things are currently fully occupied with sugar.

I'm sure they'll move on to (or back to) alcohol once they've gone as far as they can in ruining sweet items.

Once they get done contributing death to booze, sweets, toxins, guns, desk jobs, social media, rogue germs, and poor sleep, they will have eliminated 250% of all deaths

Tobacco is a cause of 1 in 10 deaths worldwide. Twice as deadly.

Homer: "The cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems!"

The fun part of the alcohol question is what could be done about it that was actually successful. Banning something that can be made in a basement from readily available, unbannable household items and has a high demand can't work so well. And even if we could, one also has to consider replacement effects: If one intoxicant is unavailable or very expensive, people that really want intoxicants will look for a different one, with different side-effects. For example, pot has milder side effects, but it's quite possible, lacking the right studies, that it might lead to lower productivity. Many an intellectually capable person is doing dead-end, near minimum wage jobs into middle age because they like the results of our advancements in breeding cheap, high THC pot. Research on an intoxicant that was even better, but with fewer societally negative side effects sounds like something worth funding, but puritan thinking will stop that.

Therefore, a longer term view is going to be about what makes people really need said intoxicants. Not everyone has the same needs there, or the same reaction to the same chemicals. Research here is also going to be difficult to fund too though.

Future intoxicants will be virtual. Just wire your cortex up to a bluetooth stimulus cable and select a setting on your phone app. Get high without the lethargy, get drunk without the cirrhosis, get coked up without the teeth grinding

Pretty certain Tyler isn't calling for prohibition. Perhaps the same type of social shaming regime that has been so successful in the tobacco arena. Anybody fired up a cigarette at a private party lately?

The idea is to get as many people as possible to try abstaining from alcohol for a significant period of time - a year or three. Just like tobacco, once you're off the stuff for a couple of years, the benefits not-drinking are so hugely apparent that only the biggest knucklehead would go back.

Not-drinking should be a signal for high intelligence. Also overall economic and emotional well-being. It says, "I am so happy and wealthy and personally fulfilled, I don't need to obliterate my consciousness in order to make my life bearable."

High emotional intelligence perhaps.

As for wealth, I believe that is in fact correlated with alcohol use and self-medication via prescription drug abuse

"The idea is to get as many people as possible to try abstaining from alcohol for a significant period of time - a year or three. Just like tobacco, once you're off the stuff for a couple of years, the benefits not-drinking are so hugely apparent that only the biggest knucklehead would go back."

In what world??

Social shaming?

When health is discussed "we" tend to listen/read/follow young and athletic role models. You see this everyday with celebrity diets, fruit smoothies, etc. Tyler is right, alcohol is somewhat risky. But don't expect people suddenly putting attention to the health advice of a middle-age overweight influencer.

[scene: super bowl party]

Middle Age Overweight Influencer: Hey everybody, I gave up drinking and I feel great.

Everybody: shut the hell up, Bob

I had a cigar at a private party at the weekend - does that count? My host offered it to me, and a bunch of other people lit up, including one guy who was planning to run a marathon the next day. He was drinking none-alcoholic beer though.

There's a robust, straightforward positive statistical relationship between alcohol consumption and intelligence. Not disagreeing with anything in the post -- I think smart people overconsuming alcohol is a big leak of happiness and life expected value -- but just be aware you're fighting upstream to some extent.

(Also note that alcohol is not parallel to cigarettes in that nonconsumption is coded negatively. Absent some legible explanation such as that you're pregnant, a triathlete, or a pregnant triathlete, not drinking is a strong signal either that you're prickly and antisocial or that you've had problems with alcohol in the past.)

Good point. Any time someone mentions they've stopped drinking, we check their car for an ignition interlock.

not drinking is a strong signal either that you're prickly and antisocial or that you've had problems with alcohol in the past.

You are certainly right about that. I'm pretty sure that when strangers see me passing on the alcohol, they think, "Hmm, I guess Faze is an old hammerhead. Well, good for him for quitting -- I guess."

In truth, I never drank that much. But it is puzzling to see people with high status and great material prosperity using alcohol to dull the very sensibilities with which they should be enjoying their advantages.

I dont use it to dull anything. But it’s undeniable that the previous utility - as social lubricant, aid to seduction, or just a pleasant solitary wine buzz - have faded

Just means we have to recruit more high-status folks to the behavior,

Check out this chart of alcohol consumption per capita per week: http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2014/10/how_much_alcohol_do_americans_drink_consumption_predicts_alcoholism_and.html

60% of Americans are essentially teetotalers. They consume, on average, less than one drink per week.

The 7th and 8th deciles have 2 drinks per week and 6 drinks per week on average. Again, this is virtually nothing from the standpoint of health assuming that one's 6 drinks aren't consumed in the same evening.

The 9th decile consists of what are labeled "Moderate to heavy drinkers". These people consume roughly 2 drinks per day on average. This is probably more than you should drink and we can actively debate whether these people would benefit from cutting down.

It's the folks in the top decile, those pickled red-faced drunks who consume on average 74 drinks per week (OVER 10 PER DAY) who likely account for the *overwhelming majority* of deaths due to alcohol.

The human liver can probably sustain two beers per day just fine for decades. It cannot and will not sustain TEN beers per day.

There's around 250 million adults (over 18) in the US, so you're saying around 25 million drink that much? Dang...

We debated this data at the time on this website - it turned out to be incorrect, the author just basically thought the numbers were too low, so increased them. This is a another good example of anti-alcohol craziness, as I said at the time, if it were really true that 10% of the population were drinking at this level, then alcohol can't be too bad for you otherwise we would be seeing lots of drunk dead people around, so ironically this data if true would be an argument that heavy drinking is pretty safe.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/trevorbutterworth/2014/10/02/when-data-journalism-goes-wrong/#31c2399d45e0

Ever since I started traveling for work 2 years ago I've gotten very sour on alcohol in general. People on planes act like they're in international waters! It's 11am and people are getting double vodka sodas. I drink socially but it makes me realize how many people are walking around with a low level buzz constantly. I don't care in a puritan sense...it's more like how are all of these people functioning and getting through the day? 2 day drinks and I need a nap.

I think it's worth reflecting on why people reflexively push back on the idea that alcohol is unhealthy - despite clear science to the contrary, particularly related to negative impacts on adolescent brain development (up to the early 20s) and the outsized level of consumption among that age group, and negative consequences that are directly alcohol related for that age group. In other words, alcohol is especially unhealthy for teenagers and young adults. Why are we so quick to ridicule the idea that we should further regulate a controlled substance with negative social impacts, through the mechanism of taxation rather than banning it outright, which as many others have said, didn't work? What social norms are we perpetuating about this substance, and what makes it different than any other controlled substance with negative social consequences? Why do we need to protect alcohol? Is it because it's a hugely profitable legal industry already? Is it because there are existing social norms about alcohol that our society is inherently better, more functional, more productive, and relations between people are made better by alcohol? Or are people who like high-end craft beer, wine, and spirits inherently less prone to alcohol misuse and addiction and therefore the economic growth associated with those businesses is more desirable than protecting health and safety of society as a whole? We focus so much on "the addicts" or "the people who can't handle alcohol" or "the people with problems," but alcohol misuse is a society-wide issue. Maybe we should all look in the mirror and ask why we use alcohol, how much we use each week or month, and consider what a healthy level of consumption of an unhealthy substance looks like.

Possibly also worth noting that many of the champions of temperance (which originally meant moderate consumption, then changed to no consumption) were women - one of the first exercises of women's political power in America. They were responding to real, tangible, everyday threats to women and children in the home by husbands, partners, fathers, etc. coming home after drinking and being violent. Again, this is not to say that alcohol causes all violence - but what is the response to the fact that it often contributes to violence, particularly against vulnerable populations like children? Others have cited statistics, and per capita ethanol consumption is actually lower today than it was 100-200 years ago, so extrapolate accordingly the scale and severity of domestic violence as it is/was tied to heavy drinking in American history. To dismiss concerns about alcohol use as "nanny state" or "prohibitionist" ignores this centuries-old power imbalance, and the real problems that temperance and prohibition were trying to address, and that clearly haven't gone away any more than alcohol has. I suppose that reality doesn't neatly fit in the "funny drunk puns, haha it's funny because it's about beer" poster series.

The intense opposition to women's suffrage in the early 20th century always mystified me, until a recent book about prohibition spelled out the close link between feminism, women's suffrage and prohibition. Men understood that giving women the vote would quickly lead to prohibition -- which, in the United States, it did. If the women's movement had de-coupled itself from the alcohol issue, many reforms might have happened a lot sooner.

Careful with relating alcohol with domestic violence. You're giving a free out-of-jail card to all violent teetotallers.

Real Prohibition has never been tried.

What's is "real" prohibition? The 1830s version wasn't exactly imaginary.

Many powerful people want to use alcohol publicly.

What powerful people want to do is, after all these years, still consistently underrated as a driver of the national conversation.

When advised to quit drinking and smoking, Mark Twain asked his doctor if this would help him live any longer. "No," the doctor admitted, "it'll just seem that way."

The unusual backdrop here is that per capita alcohol consumption is alcohol is for the most part FALLING globally.

This is partly demographics (e.g. ageing). But it's also the case that younger people (in the West, at least) are drinking less.

My (limited) understanding of this is partly health, but also social media, i.e. young people are terrified of being filmed while drunk and have video distributed.

This would seem to be a much greater deterrent than public health lobbyists and parents telling you that if you drink too much now you'll have liver problems later in life.

It's also likely that the WHO has some problems with attribution in its methodology. They have a very large program on non-communicable disease (NCD), eg obesity, tobacco-related deaths.

Public health officials and lobbyists do like the NCD programs as they provide a justification for ongoing funding; it's also likely the case that the WHO engages in mission creep, particularly as health outcomes have been continually improving globally for the past ... whenever.

(Disclaimer: I don't drink, more for health than religious reasons).

If we really want to start being data-driven, we should spend all our time debating food and exercise. Heart disease kills far more people than anything related to alcohol. But people aren’t very interested in discussing simple but effortful solutions to life’s problems. And I agree, they’re not very novel or interesting, just good for you.

Exactly. How much deaths are attributable to not eating as well as you should, and not exercising as often as you should?

“infectious diseases, cancers, mental disorders”
If alcohol causes mental disorders then playing basketball makes people taller

Alcohol exacerbates mental disorders. The population with a mental health diagnosis and substance abuse diagnosis has the label "dual diagnosis".

Alcohol, along with Obama's 98 week unemployment benefits and his changes to disability benefits that financed drug and alcohol abuse, killed my younger brother.

No, your brother's own choices killed him. Scapegoating politicians of all prople is ludicrous-and the last thing any addict needs is yet another excuse. I say this as someone who lost a brothet to cocaine in the 80s- and never thought of blaming Ronald Reagan.
And would you really have wanted your brother living as a street person with no income in the Great Recession?

You are partly correct.

He was sober until he was layed off, then he got almost 2 years of unemployment instead of looking for a job. He then sat home alone watching TV and started to drink with a vengeance. Then the disability rules were changed and he was able to get long term disability all the way to the grave. He was responding to incentives that led him to make choices not in his best interest. People respond to incentives. If you pay people to stay home and drink instead of taking ANY job, then some,/many will stay home and drink themselves to death.

You can have all the unemployment, drug/alcohol addiction, and homelessness you are willing to pay for.

I miss my brother.

Alcohol abuse is indeed tragic. In the US, at least, heart disease is by far the number one killer with over 600,000 completely preventable deaths with a healthy whole food plant-based lifestyle. This is followed by cancer, which could also be significantly reduced by a health diet.

Making this more tragic is the fact that atherosclerosis has been clinically proven to be reversed with a strict whole food plant-based lifestyle with added oil, salt or sugar (See Dr. Esselstyn and Ornish studies). Although this seems radical to many, having your chest cut open and an artery implanted from your leg is also pretty radical. Not to mention sudden death to over 25% of victims who never had any sign they had a problem.

With some medical support to believe moderate alcohol consumption may actually be healthy, I’d say having addiction treatment more available is a relatively easy path to preventing alcohol deaths. Changing American attitudes about double bacon cheeseburgers, fries and pizza is a tougher sell, particularly when the government subsidizes those industries through farm subsidies and school lunch programs. Looks like we will be losing those 600,000 per year for a long time to come.

Comments for this post are closed